Shannon Sharpe’s cold call to Julio Jones creates a hot mess for FOX

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On Monday, Shannon Sharpe decided to get to the bottom of the Julio Jones situation. So Sharpe called Jones. While Sharpe was on the air, with FS1’s Undisputed. And Jones said, candidly, “I’m out of there.”

It appeared that Jones didn’t know he was on the air. Sharpe didn’t say anything about being on the air until the end of the call. And it’s now becoming a mess for FOX.

Michael McCarthy and A.J. Perez of FrontOfficeSports.com reports that the Falcons are upset with the situation, which has created (as one unnamed source dubbed it to McCarthy) a “massive stink bomb.”

“It’s become a huge deal,” an unnamed source told the publication.

The Falcons are upset because it undermines their negotiating position in any trade talks. And indeed it does. If only one serious suitor emerges for Jones, the Falcons will have a hard time saying we’ll just keep him if the offer isn’t deemed to be good enough. (If multiple serious suitors emerge, the inevitability of a trade coming from Jones’ comments will have less of an impact.)

The Falcons will surely complain to the NFL (they likely already have), and the NFL likely will complain to FOX (they likely already have). FOX likely will make Sharpe aware of the problem he has created (they likely already have). While a one-off incident like this surely won’t damage the broader relationship, FOX may have to do a tap dance on eggshells to contain the situation — and to sufficiently persuade the powers-that-be that this won’t be happening again.

Then there’s the possibility, theoretically, of criminal liability for Sharpe. In California, both parties to a phone call must consent to the call being recorded or to others listening in. Penalties potentially apply under the California Penal Code ($2,000 fine and/or a year in jail, as noted by McCarthy and Perez) and federal law, if Jones wasn’t in California at the time the call was made. While a prosecution likely would go nowhere unless Jones pushes it, it would not be hard to prove a violation beyond a reasonable doubt.

Some at FOX undoubtedly would say that, as long as the feathers can be unruffled, it’s worth it. Both FS1 and Undisputed got plenty of exposure from the moment, flaws in the execution notwithstanding.

As one unnamed source explained it to FrontOfficeSports.com, the producers failed to protect Sharpe from himself. Someone should have realized that it would be problematic to call Jones without letting him know in advance, and someone should have stopped it.

It quickly became obvious that the producers recognized that they have a problem. For example, they declined a request to use the footage on Tuesday’s PFT Live. That’s a courtesy routinely extended among networks, and not just to be nice. It gives a show from one network free air time on a rival network. For FOX to say “no” means that FOX knows Sharpe and his producers would have been better off seeking permission in advance, not forgiveness after the fact.

14 responses to “Shannon Sharpe’s cold call to Julio Jones creates a hot mess for FOX

  1. It’s crazy how these ex-players are allowed to just become commentators with no oversight or training. You’ve got stuff like this, cases like how the NFL Network had that sexual harassment scandal because guys were just allowed to treat the workspace like a locker room, and you routinely see guys put on the air without seeming to have had any training which explains why so many of them are TERRIBLE at the job. You routinely hear a guy has been signed by a network and no time later he’s already on the air. Meanwhile, the non-player commentators spend years working up to that level.

  2. Wow, what a boneheaded move by Shannon Sharpe… Why would Shannon Sharpe call someone out of the blue and ask them personal questions on air without informing them that they are on the air that was just so unprofessional of Shannon Sharpe. He could lose his job over this ill-advised stunt…

  3. Seemed like Julio knew the call was coming and was trying to act like he didn’t. It wasn’t very convincing to me.

  4. If Sharpe & Jones are friends…and if Shannon damaged Jones’ chance of getting out of Atlanta via a trade… then, Jones has to be really upset at Sharpe right about now.

  5. This is unprofessional meets mismanagement meets incompetence. I’m SHOCKED it happened on Fox. Shannon better make nice and hope Julio/Atlanta don’t sue him for damages. Both sides! And he taped the evidence against himself, the irony is so deep you need waders

  6. That was a very low rent move on Sharpe’s part. I was shocked he did that to “his friend.”

  7. for someone who says they’re smart, that was a pretty stupid thing to do. Some how im not surprised though.

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